District 9 Supervisor David Campos will introduce legislation today that proposes the city change the name of its airport from San Francisco International to "Harvey Milk International Airport." Campos only needs five other supervisors to sign off on it in order to put the name change in front of voters this November. With the public's approval, Harvey Milk International Airport could be the first U.S. airport named for a prominent gay person.
Campos revealed the plan to the Chronicle:
Campos said about 80 other U.S. airports are already named for individuals, none of whom are gay, and that SFO - which moves 40 million passengers annually, including 9 million international travelers - has a particularly high profile. He believes it would cost between $50,000 and $250,000 to implement, citing the cost other cities have incurred to do the same, but said he hopes to attract private donations to fund the change.
Milk's surviving family is on board as well, with Harvey's nephew Stuart Milk discussing the "huge, huge implications" renaming a major airport could have on the world outside of San Francisco's bubble. As Milk explained: "To be in Dubai, and see on the board a flight that ends at Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport, or to be a young Pakistani, in a country where it is illegal to be gay, look up and see the name of a gay icon and feel, 'I am not alone' - it resonates back to my uncle and the calls he got from places like Altoona, Pa., when he was elected."
Of course, Campos will have plenty of support on the Board of Supervisors. Out gay supervisor Scott Wiener, who inhabits Milk's district now, apparently jumped at the chance to cosign the legislation. And we doubt anyone wants to be the guy who says no to putting Harvey Milk's name on anything. The real awkward debates will come next October when voters, most of them unaware that they even have a thing to vote for this year, will debate the merits of renaming our airport in honor of a local hero instead of something so boringly utilitarian as the name of the town the airport is in. Imagine all the sheepish defenders, shuffling their feet and mumbling into their drinks about how they like that the name is simple and descriptive and can be pronounced in one swooping, slurry-tongued breath: "EESSSEFF-OH."
We digress: "Milk International" does have a nice ring to it too. But what about that three letter airport code? Does that change? Let's do everything in our power to avoid changing that to "HMO" — because, well, then everyone would be calling it "homo."